December 31, 2005
— Ace From the director of the Holocaust Museum argues:
Director Steven Spielberg claims that he's not telling us what to think. In talking about his provocative new film, "Munich," Spielberg says that, as an artist, he's offering questions, not answers. And he insists that, as a Jew exposed to the Talmudic tradition, he wants to provoke discussion, not provide conclusions.
I don't think Spielberg is being disingenuous in talking about "Munich," which re-creates the massacre by Palestinian terrorists of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics and Israel's decision to respond with targeted assassinations of the perpetrators. But it's clear from watching the film, and reading his many comments about his goals in making it, that what he says, alas, simply isn't true. On both of the film's central themes -- terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- Spielberg and "Munich" offer plenty of answers and conclusions.
First, the terrorism issue. Spielberg told a Los Angeles Times interviewer that answering aggression with aggression "creates a vicious cycle of violence with no real end in sight." He said much the same thing to Time magazine -- "a response to a response doesn't really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine."
And his film frames for the viewer exactly this bleak vision of unending and unendable violence. Palestinian terrorists murder Israeli athletes to put their cause before the world. Israeli counterterrorists assassinate Palestinian terrorists involved with those murders. Palestinian terrorists carry out more murders of innocents, presumably because of the assassinations. At the end of the film, the camera lingers on the pre-9/11 Manhattan skyline, dominated by the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The film is crafted to demonstrate that violence breeds violence in the long run as well as in the short run.
Spielberg told critic Roger Ebert that his movie says, "I don't have an answer." But he, and the movie, do have an answer, and a ringing one: Striking back with force is not the solution.
One asshat told another asshat . . .
Posted by: at December 31, 2005 10:29 AM (+YJU9)
Posted by: Dennis at December 31, 2005 10:36 AM (QDNVv)
Posted by: Dave Munger at December 31, 2005 10:44 AM (ecJDu)
The true answer to terrorism is not simple force, nor simple appeasement; it is bureaucracy. Yes, the looming, rules encumbered, boring beast we are all too familiar with here in the West.
Terrorism (as a major phenomenon) only works because it has places to live where the laws are not enforced - from the bananna republics to the French ghetto. These are the places anyone can come to from around the world, where they will be (internationally) embraced, all sins forgiven, and given the "opportunity" to channel their various psychoses into group sanctioned violence directed at those portrayed by media around the world as "the bad guys" - a pretty attractive idea to any hooligan.
This gestation period is critical for terrorism - compare the damage caused by real terrorists i.e. suicide bombers, beheadings and of course 9/11 vs the "best" that the West can produce i.e. Tim McVeigh, who was deadly but a flash in the pan comparatively speaking (his squatter friends in the militias sputtered and fizzled when the FBI learned to simply surround them and wait them out - and the IRA is not really a presence outside of the UK anymore).
If we are successful in Iraq, successive generations of Iraqis will grow up in an increasingly more bureaucracy laden environment (that's what democracy does), where individual frustrations are diffused (not to be mistaken for defused) through the ballot boxes and the myriad of designated government complaint offices, sapping the motivation of would be troublemakers with the mental anaesthetic of the daily grind.
(That BTW is the reason I believe a lot of libertarians are joining ranks with liberals against the WOT)
Bureaucracy - in its established, calcified state - is what terrorists fear most. They know that violence can make short term gains against them but does not work as a long term solution (not with the madrassas daily sucking in urchins and haters like giant vacuum nozzles), and appeasement is just a slippery slope leading to victory for them - but once The System is in place with its thousands of unionized mumbling zombies, it's nigh impossible to bring down. They know it, and we need to know it too if we're going to win this.
Posted by: Scott at December 31, 2005 01:00 PM (f8958)
What causes Terrorism in the Muslim form (as distinct from localized IRA, Tamil Tigers, Sikhs, various Latin American guys like FARC etc) is the goals.
The other secularist terrorists have various nationalist or political aspirations, mostly related to grabbing the State treasury and looting the nation. They are not a trans-national ideology or interested in provoking world-wide conflict.
Islam in the idea of the Caliphate, which is the BASIS of Islam, gives a framework for terror. Either the modern world of Nokia, Disneyland, Godzilla, Sony, Coca-Cola, Jackie Chan, Samsung, Batman, and Jet Li wins; or the vision of the utopian Islamic Caliphate turning the whole world into Sixth Century Arabia wins.
You can't have both, and modern communications and the shrinking of the world, the intrusion of Jet Li and Batman into formerly completely isolated Muslim lives accelerates this conflict. You can't live life according to Allah if you love Jet Li and Denzel Washington.
Hollywood is likely THE MOST GUILTY directly of provoking terrorism simply by making fun and extremely attractive entertainment that by speaking to the core assumptions of the modern world just screams that "Allah is dead." And beckons to the "future." Filled with Action-Adventure heroes and comedies where people act in profoundly Western Ways (yes ESPECIALLY Jet Li).
This international ideological conflict won't end until one or the other ideology is destroyed. Considering that Nokia's gross revenues exceeds the non-oil related exports of Arab states I know where I'd put my money. Want to save lives and min violence? Win a lot faster, before you have a Nuke exchange or five.
Spielberg is guilty as most. Raiders and ET? Subversive in the extreme of the idea of the Caliphate.
Posted by: Jim Rockford at December 31, 2005 01:39 PM (4878o)
This is described as a cycle of violence. Geeze, kind of like, "Street drug dealers shoot innocent old lady on steps.......police officers shoot armed drug dealer."
Yeah, that seems equally blameworthy. No reason to take sides or anything.
Posted by: kjones at December 31, 2005 02:49 PM (Dh/ul)
Posted by: Bob at December 31, 2005 07:14 PM (9mM/4)
Posted by: VRWC Agent at December 31, 2005 09:05 PM (756i5)
Posted by: Jenny at January 01, 2006 05:33 AM (ofzm+)
This is almost a moot point as Munich is completely bombing in the theaters. It 8 days it has done $1.5M. It'll be lucky to do $3M I think.
This is not a Schindler's List ($96M) that is sympathetic to terrorists. This is more like a small indy film and is having almost no impact and no resonance.
Posted by: Bob at January 01, 2006 05:53 AM (YjkAM)
Posted by: docdave at January 01, 2006 07:38 AM (wURno)
The only thing that'll stop it is our insistence that anyone who uses terrorism to promote his cause loses. By default. Period. No matter how compelling or sympathetic the cause may be. Bush made some very encouraging rumblings in that direction right after 9/11 and I thought we'd gotten the message at last, but it wouldn't seem so.
We can't afford to indulge terrorism as we have in the past, and nuclear weapons are why. Damn, I hope we don't learn that one the hard way.
Posted by: S. Weasel at January 01, 2006 10:42 AM (YraV+)
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